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‘Reform Whitehall to speed up medical cannabis access’ – Conservative MP

The Conservative politician said access needs to be taken out of the Home Office’s remit and put into healthcare structures

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Pro-reform Conservative MP Dr Dan Poulter believes ‘we are winning the argument’ on access to medical cannabis.

Speaking at Prohibition Partners Live, the clinician and politician said he believes policymakers are listening but that the machinery of government is doomed to be slow-moving when it comes to change.

Appearing in a discussion alongside Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi and Drug Science founder Professor David Nutt, Poulter argued for Whitehall reform to speed up the process.

He said: “The concern for me is you still find a concern among politicians generally about the conflation of cannabis in medical use and the wider criminal justice issues.

“We’re beginning to win that argument and move the debate to a more sensible place but there is still that backdrop.

“I think we’ve got to be frank that because of Covid, and though we want to go much faster, the Department for Health has had other priorities.

“We need to put our foot on the accelerator now…and look at those barriers that are still in place.”

He added: “This conflation of criminal justice issues with broader medical issues need to be wrestled away from Home Office and Ministry of Justice and make sure it’s a health issue, that’s the biggest challenge.

“We’ve got to move this completely away form those government departments in Whitehall that are linked to prohibition and drug control and move it to healthcare regimes.

“I think we are winning the argument but we now need to see the mechanics put into place.”

Antoniazzi said she believes ‘the mindset of the public is changing – but the government isn’t coming with us’.

The Welsh MP wondered if the British government is hesitant because liberalisation in the medical sphere might ‘lead on to other conversations’ about wider use.

She said: “Every step the government makes is in the right direction…all be it very slowly.

“They are worried about opening the floodgates to a market and world that they can’t regulate and control and that is the concern they have and I just think it’s a great shame.”

Antoniazzi added that finding support in Westminster can be ‘like hitting your head against a brick wall’ but that it is coming to the surface.

She said: “The support is there, cross-party…the willingness and ability to change things on the regulatory side. There are massive stumbling blocks and we’re working hard to identify what they are.”

Markets and industry

CBD pet product market expected to reach $4.7bn by 2028

Increasing demand for CBD-infused pet food is contributing to market growth.

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CBD pet product market expected to reach $4.7bn by 2028

Recent analysis has predicted the global CBD pet market size is expected to reach $4.79bn by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 58.9 per cent.

New analysis from Research and Markets attributes the growth to increasing health expenditure and health concerns among pet owners, as well as increasing demand for CBD-infused pet food.

The company notes that the pet-boom during the COVID-19 pandemic saw the industry witness manufacturing challenges, such as altered consumption patterns, improved demand, worker protection protocols and spot shortages in packaging.

It states: “For instance, in 2019, Nestle owned Purina, a pet food company, broadcasted its decision to invest in CBD-infused dog food production. Furthermore, increased usage of natural supplements in treating various lifestyle-related disorders in domesticated animals is fueling the growth.”

And went on to say: “…However, sales growth figures driven by consumer demand and increased spending on pets permitted the industry to make a steep comeback in the latter of the year 2020. Paw CBD, cbdMD, Inc.’s pet brand has seen an estimated 64 per cent increase in net sales from March 2020 quarter of about $750,000 to about $1,229,000 for June 2020 quarter.”

Research and Markets also attributes growth to the fact that CBD-infused products are also useful in cancer-related pain in animals, as well as key players in the industry focusing on product innovation due to consumer preference for natural supplements. 

Read the Global CBD Pet Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report 2021-2028.

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How the carbon capture of hemp can help reduce emissions

Canxchange explores how hemp could solve the carbon emissions crisis.

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Carbon emissions reached an all-time high just before the Covid-19 lockdowns started. The hemp industry has fostered a young culture of carbon awareness. Here are some of the developments.

How the Carbon Capture of Hemp Can Help Reduce Emissions – Live on the Canxchange website.

Carbon emissions reached all-time highs before the COVID-19 pandemic. With such unprecedented rates of emission, we are constantly measuring how to reduce our output.

Around the world, governments incentivise manufacturing businesses to reduce carbon emissions in newer products. Cars, for example, are increasingly regulated. But other businesses exist on the other end of the spectrum—such as the hemp industry. Hemp cultivation produces net negative carbon emissions. That means that the hemp industry actively contributes to the solution to carbon emissions.

So, exactly how much carbon does hemp capture? What about the other carbon-capturing practices and businesses? 

Environmental impact: hemp vs. other ways of capturing CO2

Many studies already exist on the carbon capture of hemp. They differ in their conclusions, but not by a significant margin.

According to the European Industrial Hemp Association, one hectare of industrial hemp absorbs up to 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Another study by Hemp Tech Global found that one acre of industrial hemp absorbs 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide in just 3 to 4 months of growth.

These levels of carbon capture are significant. When compared to other crops, and plants overall, hemp has exceptional carbon absorption. However, it’s not normally the first plant that comes to mind when you talk about carbon reduction.

Most people think of trees as the first line of defence against excessive carbon emissions. Indeed, trees are undisputedly the most abundant, and one of the most efficient, tools that we have. However, as an active measure, we simply cannot rely on them alone. Unfortunately, that is even more true given the fact that we are still in the midst of a deforestation crisis. In the past 50 years alone, we’ve deforested 17% of the Amazon rainforest.

Hemp vs. trees

While the comparison might sound silly at first, hemp fields can actually be more effective than forests at capturing carbon.

According to Cambridge University research, planting hemp is more effective than planting trees. Whereas forests capture between 2 and 6 tonnes per hectare per year, hemp captures 8 to 15.

Carbon emission reduction after cultivation

In addition to carbon absorption, hemp contributes to fighting carbon emissions after its cultivation.

Hemp is one of the best converters of carbon dioxide to biomass. That’s because it can be used for carbon-negative bioplastics. Hemp is a great substitute for synthetic polymers like polyethene, which are used in most manufactured plastics. Hemp-based plastics are carbon-neutral when it comes to production, and then completely biodegradable.

There are even more products that hemp can be used for at a reduced rate of carbon emissions. It can replace materials used in construction, clothing manufacturing, and ropes.

The Natural Solution

Hemp is an easy and natural solution to a lot of our current excessive carbon emissions, offering immense versatility. It’s also been used for most of human agricultural history and only stopped being used by many countries in the 20th century.

While hemp has many uses, it also provides an alternative to fossil fuels. Fossil fuels like petrol contribute enormously to the excessive carbon emissions produced during the last 50 years. Hemp biofuel, on the other hand, is less polluting and is one of the most widely available fossil fuel substitutes.

Hemp can also help reduce CO2 emissions through biosequestration, which is a process that involves slowly smouldering cultivated hemp crops. After using it to produce tar, it is returned to the soil rather than being released into the air.

Carbon credits

These hemp solutions might become more incentivised going forward. For hemp farmers, the opportunity to cash in on carbon credits is an added incentive. So far, this idea has primarily been explored by blockchain startups. But governments have also started awarding carbon credits for hemp farmers who meet their criteria.

Key tech start-ups operating in this space

Several hemp startups are taking the opportunity to capitalise on the crop’s potential.

Hempitecture

Hempitecture is a US startup for environmentally-friendly architecture. The startup addresses environmental concerns that current construction practices are aggravating. They are working to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry through environmentally friendly hemp construction products.

Hemp can be used in the production of insulators and building blocks, removing the need for polluting materials. Hempitecture produces those materials for companies in the construction industry. They use a mineral-based binder to bond the hemp core through either cast-in-place or a spray. The result is lower carbon emissions in construction.

eHempHouse

eHempHouse specialises in converting cultivated hemp into an environmentally friendly fuel. Hemp is already a carbon-negative plant. So, the process reduces CO2 emissions by both carbon capture and replacing processes that emit more carbon. In addition, the company converts hemp into products in the health, cosmetic, and textile industries.

Mirreco

Mirreco is an Australian startup that provides hemp solutions for:

  • Paper
  • Textiles
  • Construction
  • Green plastics
  • Food
  • Fuel
  • More

The startup seeks to maximise carbon capture in the industries where hemp can be applied. For example, the plastics and cosmetics industries normally require fossil fuels in their production. Then, plastics don’t easily degrade. Mirreco solves these issues with non-synthetic, hemp-based polymers.

Can hemp solve the carbon emissions crisis?

On its own, no single solution can solve such a complex problem. However, hemp is such a versatile crop that it can be applied across several industries and reduce carbon emissions in a wide variety of ways.

Hemp cultivation is now being slowly legalised around the world. It is providing use in carbon capture while replacing emission-producing materials and processes. In addition, more research is underway and many new startups are leading the way in finding new, green applications.

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Politics & policy

World anti-doping agency to carry out scientific cannabis review in 2022

Currently, cannabinoid substances are prohibited with the exception of CBD.

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World anti-doping agency to carry out scientific cannabis review in 2022

A scientific review of cannabis will be carried out by the World Anti-Doping Agency to establish whether the substance should be removed from the prohibited list.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) recently announced it would conduct a scientific review of cannabis to determine whether it should be removed as a banned substance following a number of requests.

The organisation’s Executive Committee (ExCo) made the announcement at its third meeting of the year in Istanbul, noting that use of the plant would remain prohibited until a decision is made in 2022.

Currently, cannabinoid substances are prohibited with the exception of CBD, which is often used by athletes to aid recovery from sports injuries.

The Wada website states: “All natural and synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited except for cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis, hashish and marijuana are prohibited.

“Products, including foods and drinks, containing cannabinoids, are also prohibited. All synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the effects of THC are prohibited.

“CBD is not prohibited; however, athletes should be aware that some CBD oils and tinctures extracted from cannabis plants, may also contain THC and other cannabinoids that could result in a positive test for a prohibited cannabinoid.”

Commenting on the decision Wada stated: “…following receipt of requests from a number of stakeholders, the ExCo endorsed the decision of the List Expert Advisory Group to initiate in 2022 a scientific review of the status of cannabis. Cannabis is currently prohibited in competition and will continue to be in 2022.”

The decision follows the ban of Sha’Carri Richardson from the Tokyo games after testing positive for THC. The US sprinter said on the Today Show that she used the substance to cope with the loss of her mother.

Speaking at the time of Richardson’s ban, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO, Travis Tygart, commented: “Regarding the way in which THC positives are handled, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sets the rules for the world that all countries—including the United States—have to follow. While the U.S. government has a seat at the table to provide feedback, and will continue to speak up for athletes, we are ultimately bound to the WADA rules. This is true even in sad and tough cases like this one, where we might take a different approach if the choice was ours to make.”

And continued: “While the rules here are clear, it is a terrible situation. Of course, it is important to emphasize that, as Sha’Carri said, she takes full responsibility and ownership of the decision to use marijuana despite knowing it was a risk. She learned about those risks during in-person education with USADA on multiple occasions, and several times she completed our online education modules, all of which address marijuana.

“None of this makes the situation any easier, as the real issue here is trying to find ways to support athletes who find themselves dealing with mental health issues similar to hers, where she decided that the use of marijuana was her only option to deal with her emotional pain even though it could easily put her career at risk.”

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